Right Honourable Helen Clark ONZ SSI PC

Citation for an ANU honorary degree - doctor of laws
10 December 2019

Chancellor, it is my privilege to present to you for a degree of the University, the Right Honourable Helen Clark ONZ SSI PC.

Ms Helen Clark is a New Zealand politician who has made exceptional contributions to public service as the former Prime Minister of New Zealand and the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme.

She was elected to the New Zealand Parliament in 1981 for the electorate of Mount Albert and in 1984 she became the chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, where she successfully advocated for New Zealand's adoption of an anti-nuclear policy.  She joined the cabinet in 1987, became the first female deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand in 1989, and in 1993 she was elected head of the Labour party as the first woman to lead a major party in New Zealand. She was elected as the second female Prime Minister of New Zealand in 1999, and the first female to be elected into the role.

As Prime Minister she led a coalition government that advocated for liberal policies such as the reduction of inequality, environmental sustainability and improvements in people's welfare. Under her leadership, New Zealand experienced high economic growth, low levels of unemployment and high levels of investment in education, health and the well-being of families and older citizens.

Her government prioritised reconciliation and the settlement of historical grievances with indigenous peoples and the development of an inclusive multicultural society. After three successive election victories her government was defeated at election and Ms Clark stepped down as party leader.

She then took up the position as Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, the third highest position at the UN. She was the first woman to lead the Programme and she held this position from 2009 to 2017. She has been credited for bringing greater efficiency to the agency and assisting nations in biodiversity conservation and management.

In 2009 she was appointed a member of the Order of New Zealand, the country's highest honour.

In 2017 Ms Clark delivered the Crawford Oration at ANU, where she discussed the leadership the world needs to meet the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Chancellor, it is with pleasure that I present to you the Right Honourable Helen Clark, that you may confer on her the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa for her exceptional contribution to politics, international affairs, women's empowerment, development issues and environmental sustainability.